Book Review: The Heart of Black Preaching

“The Heart of Black Preaching” by Cleophus J. LaRue is a powerful and insightful exploration of the tradition of Black preaching in America. Drawing on his decades of experience as a pastor and professor of homiletics, LaRue offers a rich and detailed analysis of the distinctive qualities of Black preaching and the ways in which it reflects the experiences, struggles, and aspirations of the Black community.

The book is organized into three main sections: “The Historical Roots of Black Preaching,” “The Essential Characteristics of Black Preaching,” and “The Impact of Black Preaching.” In the first section, LaRue traces the origins of Black preaching back to the African spiritual traditions that were brought to America by enslaved people, and shows how these traditions were transformed and adapted over time to meet the needs of the Black community in America.

In the second section, LaRue delves into the unique features of Black preaching, including its use of metaphor and narrative, its emphasis on the embodied experience of faith, and its ability to connect with the lived realities of its listeners. He also explores the role of the preacher as a prophetic voice, challenging the powers that be and advocating for justice and liberation.

Finally, in the third section, LaRue explores the impact of Black preaching on the broader culture, both within and beyond the Black church. He shows how Black preachers have been instrumental in shaping the social and political movements of the 20th century, from the Civil Rights Movement to the Black Lives Matter movement of today.

Throughout the book, LaRue’s writing is clear, engaging, and deeply informed by his own experiences as a preacher and scholar. He blends historical and theological insights with personal anecdotes and reflections, making the book both informative and inspiring.

Overall, “The Heart of Black Preaching” is an important and timely contribution to the study of American religion and culture. It offers a compelling vision of the power of Black preaching to transform hearts and minds, and to bring about social and political change. Whether you are a scholar of religion, a preacher, or simply someone interested in the role of faith in our society, this book is well worth reading.

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